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How to Cure a Hangover: 8 Remedies That Work

It’s one thing to have the occasional adult beverage or night out partying, but drinking to excess can sometimes lead to a hangover the next morning as your body tries to process the alcohol. Hangovers aren’t pleasant, but many symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications, rest, and plenty of water. If you’re suffering from a hangover, read on to find out how to cure your hangover and prevent it from happening in the first place.

Factors that influence the severity of a hangover

Essentially, a hangover is the result of drinking too much alcohol. Hangovers consist of a series of symptoms including headaches, nausea, excessive thirst due to dehydration, lethargy, and shaky hands. You may also display signs of a hangover on your face, with dark circles under your eyes, dry skin, or bloodshot eyes. A reliable hangover cure hasn’t made it to the market yet, so preventing one in the first place may be a better option. 

The more you drink, typically the more severe your hangover will be. However, what you drink may also be a factor. Cheaper liquors, for example, aren’t as filtered and refined as more expensive spirits, some of which go through multiple distillations to remove impurities. Brown liquors, such as bourbon, scotch, and whiskey, have more natural impurities than clear liquors like vodka. These impurities can make your hangover worse.

High-alcohol-content beers, like IPAs, may give you a worse hangover than light beers. Red wine may cause worse hangover symptoms than white wine because red wine has more tannins and sediments in it, which can make you feel worse. IPAs and red wine are also more likely to result in headaches than other drinks. 

There’s an old adage that “beer before liquor makes you sicker,” and while some people find this to be the case, it’s not necessarily scientifically accurate. What may cause this common misconception is that switching from a low-alcohol beverage to a higher-alcohol one may cause you to drink more than if you had stayed with one type of beverage.

It’s also important to note that women metabolize alcohol less efficiently than men do. Women tend to get more drunk more quickly than men, even if they’re the same height and weight. Keep this in mind the next time you’re thinking about going drink-for-drink with your friends. 

Hangover vs alcohol poisoning

Too much alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, when your body can’t process the excessive amount of alcohol fast enough. Alcohol poisoning is a serious condition that can be deadly, and it’s critical to get medical attention for anyone experiencing it right away. Even if alcohol poisoning doesn’t turn deadly, it can have lasting health consequences including brain damage.

Drinking too much too fast affects your breathing, heart rate, body temperature, and gag reflex. If the alcohol you ingest causes you to vomit, the compromised gag reflex can cause you to choke on your vomit. Without medical treatment, those with alcohol poisoning can fall into a coma or even die.

Even if alcohol poisoning doesn’t turn deadly, it can have lasting health consequences including brain damage.

Alcohol poisoning can look like over-intoxication, with symptoms like confusion, vomiting, and passing out. More serious symptoms of alcohol poisoning include seizures, breathing that is slow (fewer than eight breaths a minute) or irregular (more than 10 seconds between breaths), low body temperature, and skin with a bluish tinge.

Treatment for alcohol poisoning includes having the stomach pumped and being hooked up to an intravenous line for saline and nutrients. 

A severe hangover can also cause dehydration, which can be a serious medical condition that requires hospital treatment. Restoring your fluids, vital nutrients, and B vitamins is an important hangover remedy. 

How to get over a hangover

There really isn’t a magic potion for getting over a hangover, although plenty of rest and fluids help. Some people swear that a little “hair of the dog,” (more alcohol the morning after a night drinking) can help cure a hangover. However, this type of “cure” can be a slippery slope toward alcohol dependence, and there really isn’t any scientific proof that it’s an effective way to get rid of a hangover. 

There really isn’t a magic potion for getting over a hangover, although plenty of rest and fluids help.

Your body will naturally recover from a hangover with time, but you can help it along with vitamin B supplements and beverages that contain electrolytes, like sports drinks or oral electrolyte solutions. Some people say that drinking strong coffee in the morning or eating a greasy breakfast can be effective hangover remedies. Both of these may in fact bring relief for some of the symptoms. Hangovers can also cause excessive sweating, so a hot shower may help you feel better.

Certain over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin, ibuprofen, and antacids can help reduce headaches and nausea from a hangover, letting you go about your day more easily. However, be careful about the type of pain relief medication you take. Some of them, like acetaminophen, can increase the toxins’ damage to the liver. 

Eating certain foods after a night of drinking can also help you get over a hangover. If your hangover symptoms include diarrhea, though, this may be unpleasant. Bland foods, like those prescribed for a stomach flu, may help ease your nausea. Bananas are also helpful for nausea and a great source of potassium.

Ways to prevent a hangover

The simplest way to prevent a hangover is not to drink to excess in the first place. If you are drinking alcohol, make sure to also drink plenty of water. This will help prevent dehydration in the morning, which leads to headaches and dry skin.

Eating while you’re drinking alcohol can help slow the absorption of alcohol in your body and offset the chances of overindulging and being hungover in the morning. Plus, the nutrients that you consume, especially protein, can help your body offset what it loses as a cost of drinking. But make sure not to eat too much greasy food with alcohol, as it increases the risk of such complications as cholecystitis (inflamed gallbladder) and pancreatitis (inflamed pancreas). 

Hangover pills claim to treat a whole host of hangover-associated symptoms. These pills or powders contain aspirin, caffeine, vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts. Part of treating a hangover is to compensate for the reduction in vitamins and minerals that are depleted as the liver processes the alcohol. Replenishing them is a good start to curing a hangover. Be cautious about taking these pills, though, as not all of them have been tested or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

The takeaway

Overindulging in alcohol can have harmful consequences, especially if you do it regularly. Hangovers can have unpleasant health effects and make you less productive during the day. However, most hangover symptoms are treatable, and a day of rest, plenty of water, and proper nutrients can lessen their severity.

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hangovers/symptoms-causes/syc-20373012

https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/hangovers

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alcohol-poisoning/symptoms-causes/syc-20354386

https://www.foundationalmedicinereview.com/blog/do-hangover-pills-work-examining-the-efficacy-of-hangover-remedies/

https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa46.htm

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